Eagles Behind Warren's Island

January, 2011








This story is about a guy named Warren Foster (seen in silhouette above) and a pair of resident bald eagles we have been watching. I met Warren around 2009 through mutual friends of the river, but I first saw his name in 2007.

Being a fishing guide, I run flathead fishing trips on the James, between Hugenot Flatwater and Pony Pasture, and I use the portage trail on Williams Island from June through October. The portage trail is safe passage around low head Z-Dam. Over the years, I noticed how much better the portage trail was being maintained ... widened, always clear of debris, and beautiful brown rocks lined parts of the portage trail. One day in 2007 I noticed a new sign installed on the upper end of the portage trail at Williams Island, a 95-acre island in the middle of the James River near Pony Pasture. And then, a few years later, I met the man from the sign. Warren and I have become good friends and have boated the flatwater throughout the winter and lately have been trying to make a connection with a pair of eagles on the north bank of the river, behind Williams Island.

Williams Island lies in the the City of Richmond and for those "In the Know", the island has unofficially been renamed Warren's Island. Why? Because Warren has tirelessly been doing so much for the park system, including grooming the portage trail on the island for years. He has taken the portage trail, and extended it, building a small path that starts at the end of the official portage trail, below the Z-Dam and continues down and around the island, ending at Williams Dam on the northeastern side of the island. For his vision of many things still needed for the park, and his volunteer cleanup efforts over the years, in 2010, the James River Advisory Council named Warren the "Guardian of The River" at their annual awards ceremony. One of Warren's dreams is to have his island become an official part of the James River Park System (note: in December os 2012, Warren's Island became an official part of the James River Park System ... way to go Warren!)

Behind Warren's Island, on the north bank of the river, a pair of bald eagles have settled and created a territory. They are the first pair in Richmond in a very long time. We decided to name them Thunderhawk & Lightning.  If you look at the image with three distinct pine trees, you can see their nest in the pine tree on the left (See the close up shot of the tree below-left).  One of the eagles is perched in the tree to the right ... but with this small image, it's hard to tell.  Look for the black speck to the right of the trunk.  The nice thing about these eagles, is that they are right around the corner from my house, or should I say, right around the river bend.  Anytime now they will begin to nest and start incubating an egg or two. 

With any luck, this established pair of eagles will have young eaglets and add to the growing population of Central Virginia's bald eagles. It might take a while though, as the offspring of this pair will be gone by the fall, flying around the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and in five years may settle down somewhere when they become mature adult bald eagles. One last note about local resident eagles ... there is a pair of adult bald eagles attempting to next about a mile or two downriver, near the Nickel Bridge.  Look for more reports to come ... 

--Capt. Mike